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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 30, 2003

African Graphic Designer To Speak At UI Nov. 4

Saki Mafundikwa, an African graphic designer, typographer and design educator, will talk about starting a design school in Zimbabwe and his forthcoming book, "Afrikan Alphabets," on Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. in Room E109 Art and Art History Building on the University of Iowa campus.

The talk is sponsored by UI International Programs, UI Center for the Book and School of Art and Art History with support from the African Students Association and the International Writing Program.

Mafundikwa holds a master's in fine arts in graphic design from Yale University. He worked and taught in New York City before returning to his native Zimbabwe. He founded the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA), his country's first graphic design and new media college. With ZIVA, he has been able to encourage the creative potential for truly African contributions to worldwide typography.

Mafundikwa invented and trademarked the word "vigital" as a way of expressing the blend of visual design and digital video that he felt could be such a fertile area for growth in his country, said Belindah Mutuku, one of the organizers of his visit.

"The word came to him, in fact, on a visit to San Francisco, while he was riding a Muni bus through the city," Mutuku said. "It neatly made possible the acronym ZIVA, which is also a word in Shona, one of the principle languages of Zimbabwe, meaning 'knowledge.' And imparting knowledge, giving students the tools to explore their own culture and express it in a global context, is what ZIVA is all about."

Mafundikwa has been researching the various writing systems of Africa for his book, "Afrikan Alphabets," which looks into the writing systems across the African continent including Mende, Vai, Nsibidi, Bamum and the Somali, and Ethiopian scripts. Mafundikwa has spoken about typography and graphic design around the world in places like Paris, Colombia, Kampala and San Francisco among others.

For more information contact Belindah Mutuku at or 319 353-5112. For special accommodations to attend the event call 319 335-1771.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026, Program: Belindah Mutuku,, 319-353-5112; Writer: Mansi Bhatia.